Intersectionality and Workplace Sexual Harassment

Workplace harassment and discrimination are broad subjects within employment law. They can describe many different types of wrongful or illegal acts that ultimately make an employee feel unwelcome or at risk. One type of workplace sexual harassment is intersectional harassment. If you are facing intersectional workplace sexual harassment, consult with an attorney in Los Angeles right away for legal advice.

What Is Intersectional Harassment?

Sexual harassment often involves a perpetrator taking advantage of a position of power in the workplace, such as an employer or manager, to assert dominance over lower-stationed employees. Some forms of sexual harassment are not only based on sex. Harassment can also be based on gender, gender identity, relationship status, race, color, country of origin, age, disability, religion and other protected classes.

Intersectional harassment is harassment based on more than one protected class. It is harassment on the basis of multiple identities, such as sex as well as race or gender. One of the most common examples of those who tend to experience intersectional harassment is Black women. With a marginalized race and sex, Black women are more likely to face sexual harassment than other groups.

Intersectional harassment can be extremely harmful to the employee. Harassment based on multiple characteristics can create a hostile work environment where the worker does not feel safe or productive. Victims of intersectional harassment at work can suffer negative consequences, such as demotions, job termination, lost wages, emotional pain, psychological distress, depression, anxiety and stress. These issues can affect an individual at work as well as beyond the workplace.

Intersectional Harassment Statistics

Intersectional harassment plagues workplaces in the US. It can come in the form of nonconsensual sexual touching, verbal or visual sexual harassment, requesting sexual favors (quid pro quo), a hostile work environment, or discrimination. The act of harassment will be classified as intersectional if it is based on multiple identities. Intersectional harassment is more common than most people realize.

  • The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 6,696 sexual harassment claims in a single year, over 80% of which were filed by women (Georgetown University Law Center).
  • Women of color represent 56% of all EEOC claims filed by women, despite representing only 37% of women in the workplace.
  • 35% of women of color reported sexual harassment in the workplace, compared to 20% of white women.
  • 34% of female employees have been sexually harassed by coworkers (Harvard Business Review).
  • 31% of Asian women who experienced sexual harassment in one survey had been harassed by a junior colleague.
  • Almost one in four (22%) Black women who had experienced sexual harassment said the perpetrator was a junior colleague, while 23% said the perpetrator was another woman.
  • More than one in five Black men in the survey said they’d been sexually harassed by a colleague, and 85% of victims said they were harassed by women.

Numerous studies have proven that harassment at the intersection of race and sex is rampant in workplaces in the US, as are other types of intersectional harassment. Under both state and federal laws, workers who experience sexual harassment have the right to file claims.

What to Do If You’re Experiencing Harassment

If you’re experiencing intersectional sexual harassment at work, contact the Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers at Mathew & George for a free consultation. Our attorneys can investigate the situation and help you gather evidence of harassment. Then, we can guide you through the processes involved in seeking justice, including filing a claim with the EEOC and/or bringing a lawsuit against your employer. We stand with employees in California who have been harassed or discriminated against at work. Find out how we can help you today.